Cardiff’s Principality Stadium transformed into Dragon’s Heart Hospital, with coronavirus patients to be treated on pitch

First 300 beds made available on Easter Sunday as construction continues

Andy Gregory
Monday 13 April 2020 15:42 BST

Coronavirus patients can now be treated on the pitch of the home of Welsh rugby, the Principality Stadium, after a mammoth effort to convert it into a field hospital.

Better known by its former name, the Millennium Stadium, the iconic Cardiff venue will help to ease pressure in existing NHS facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Dragon’s Heart Hospital was ready to admit its first patients on Easter Sunday, with 300 beds made available less than a fortnight after construction work began.

Images showed vast tented structures appearing to run the full length of the pitch, which only weeks earlier had hosted Six Nations rugby matches.

While the hospital is now operational, construction work to increase capacity is still underway.

“Work on the pitch continues,” said Cardiff and Vale University Health Board chief executive, Len Richards on Twitter, as he shared images of the new hospital on Sunday.

“Fantastic tented structures to create enclosed ward environments. A feat of engineering and construction.”

Specialist contractors have been working alongside health experts to create the hospital, with the army also drafted in to help.

Similar rapidly built structures have been built in London and Glasgow to help scale up the UK’s intensive care capacity.

In addition to converting spaces in existing hospitals into intensive care wards, a series of new field hospitals are being built across the UK, dubbed ”NHS Nightingale” after Florence Nightingale.

The ExCel centre in London became the first such hospital to open, on 3 April, followed by one in Birmingham a week later.

Further centres are being built in Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol, Washington and Exeter.

While those built at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus are also technically NHS Nightingale hospitals, Wales and Scotland have opted for names more tailored to their individual nations.

“Dragon’s Heart” was picked from thousands of suggestions from the Welsh public, while Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon settled on the Louisa Jordan Hospital – named so after a Scottish First World War nurse who died treating typhoid patients in Serbia.

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